Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Thursday said the new citizenship law seeks to implement exactly the suggestions given by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2003 in Parliament, who had advocated for granting Indian citizenship for persecuted minorities from neighbouring countries.

He also attacked the Congress party for changing its stand on issues depending on the votebank requirement or political expediency.

“Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) seeks to implement exactly the same suggestion which had been very effectively and logically put across by Dr Manmohan Singh in 2003 as the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha in support of laying down a liberal policy to offer citizenship to persecuted minorities from Bangladesh and other neighbouring countries,” Singh told PTI .

He said it is now for the Congress party to explain to the nation whether it keeps changing its stand on a single issue depending on the votebank requirement and political expediency.

Singh, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), said much harm has already been done to the social fabric and harmony of the nation by opposition parties which always take a position with an eye on the next elections.

“It is for the first time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to change the political culture by addressing issues on merit,” he said.

Reacting on the protests going on in parts of the country, including the national capital, he said masses must rise above political considerations and party politics. “It is for all of us to first study and understand the implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act and then explain to the masses to rise above political consideration and party politics,” Singh said.

Hundreds of students, activists and opposition leaders were detained on Thursday for defying prohibitory orders to protest against the new citizenship law as large parts of the national capital reeled under restrictions on mobile internet services and traffic movement.

Protests were witnessed in many parts of the country over the new citizenship law.